Faculty Spotlight: Robin Keehn

Faculty Spotlight

Cory Kay, Assistant Features Editor


Dr. Robin Keehn is a dedicated and innovative Literature and Writing Studies lecturer here at Cal State San Marcos. She challenges her students to expand their understandings of literature and writing in order to tap into their creative potential.

Before taking on the role of a university lecturer at CSUSM, Robin Keehn was also a CSUSM Cougar herself. She began her college education at Mesa Community College, before stepping away from school in order to work to support herself. In 1990, Keehn returned to CSUSM as an undergraduate student with intentions on pursuing a Liberal Studies degree.

However, during her undergraduate career, Keehn met Dr. Kenneth Mendoza, who inspired her to change directions and pursue an English degree. According to Keehn, she’d always appreciated the value of stories and was a highly self-motivated writer throughout her years of schooling. When Mendoza noted her remarkable writing talent and her potential to pursue a Ph.D., Keehn went on to graduate from CSUSM with honors and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English. After beating the odds and being admitted into the University of California San Diego as a graduate student, Keehn also earned a Master’s Degree in Literatures in English and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature.

Dr. Robin Keehn has been teaching since she began her graduate studies at UCSD in 1992. In 1999, Keehn began lecturing in the Literature and Writing Studies department at CSUSM. She has also directed the Writing Center and the GEW program.

Keehn describes her inspiration to teach as a natural love for teaching and learning.

“My mother often told a story of me at age four, setting up a school on our porch,” Keehn said. “Somehow, I got the kids in the neighborhood, kids who were older than me, to be my students.’”

She also explained that for her and many other children, the love of school arose from the fact that school is an ordered and safe place, especially for students who may come from tough backgrounds.

Dr. Keehn’s favorite class to teach is LTWR 303A: U.S. War Literature.

“My doctoral work was on the rhetoric and literature of the Korean War,” she said.

Keehn also said that she is intrigued by war literature because she is “interested in how writers find words to express that which is beyond language.”

In addition to that, she loves war literature for its focus on “creating a discourse community that brings together current military, veterans, and civilians to read great literature.”

Throughout the years of teaching some of her favorite classes, Dr. Keehn has also discovered her favorite qualities in a student. A good student, according to her, is “a student who wants to be here.”

Keehn expands upon this, saying that a good student does not simply attend a university to please his or her parents or to have the typical “college experience,” but to create “his or her own educational experience” through hard work and curiosity. She also said that a good class is one that changes students. A good class “should leave a lasting effect.”

Keehn said that she hopes students take away a multitude of lessons from each class she teaches.

A unique and eye-opening aspect of her teaching philosophy is that she wants to instill in students the fact that “reading, thinking and writing add more to one’s life than Facebook or Instagram ever could.”

Keehn urges students to live life to the fullest and to learn as much as possible. She ultimately teaches with the dedication she exhibits because she loves so many aspects of teaching.
“I love my students; I love the classroom,” she said. “I love to explore ideas with them. And I learn from them every day.”